They kicked off the night with a bang, trading their own 11th pick and power forward Dario Saric to the Phoenix Suns for a sixth pick that became Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver. They backed that up by drafting Washington guard Jaylen Nowell with the 43rd pick and finished the night by signing LSU big man Naz Reid to a two-way deal.
There is lots to parse through, so let’s do it in typical Wolf fashion with some Howls and Growls.
Howl: Best Player Available
Make no mistake, Jarrett Culver was the best player available at six regardless of positional need.
He burst onto the national scene in his sophomore season, averaging 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists while earning the Big 12 Player of the Year and a Consensus All-American nod. In addition to his scoring talents, Culver is one of the most exciting defenders in the draft.
Minnesota is desperate for versatile, talented, and willing defenders. Pairing Culver with fellow defensive-minded wings like Robert Covington and Josh Okogie will create some mouth-watering guard/forward combinations.
Rosas has stated multiple times how each draft is a 3-4 year process, which rules out drafting purely for a need, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he swung for the fences on a young stud that plays hard on both ends.
Growl: Funky Fit
While there are no real qualms about Culver’s game, there are certainly some questions about how he will fit with this Wolves roster.
With the subtraction of Saric, they have no real power forwards heading into the free agency period. They are also thin at point guard with an inconsistent and injury-prone Jeff Teague back for the final year of his deal and restricted free agent Tyus Jones’ future still in limbo.
What they do have is a ton of wings. The aforementioned Okogie and Covington will demand minutes and Andrew Wiggins and his monstrous contract are hard to forget, too. With that in mind, picking Culver and Nowell seems a little left field.
Perhaps they will rue passing up on North Carolina point guard Coby White when hindsight kicks in. For now, we will have to wait and see how the roster shakes out after more moves inevitably go down.
Howl: Aggressive Gersson
No matter how you feel about losing Super Dario or passing up on a point guard, you can’t be mad with Gersson Rosas’ aggressiveness toward improving this team:
So in the end... Rosas used his least valuable asset (Saric) to swing for the fences (Garland), whiffed, and ended up with a consensus top-5 prospect (Culver).— Kyle Theige (@KyleTheige) June 21, 2019
If that’s how this regime plans to operate going forward, the #Wolves are in GREAT hands.
For such a long time the Timberwolves have been content to sit on their hands and let fate try to find them, but the new president of basketball operations has entered with a refreshing ‘go and get it’ attitude.
Cut from the Houston Rockets cloth that has connected on many a home run, Rosas flexed his muscle during his first POBO test. Hopefully this is just a taste of what the front office leader will bring during his Minnesota tenure, including the upcoming free agency frenzy.
Growl: Culver’s Downside
There is a lot to love about Jarrett Culver, but his jump shot is not currently one of those things.
With an atypical hitch in it, the 20-year-old will not be on any how-to videos when it comes to shooting. As a result, he shot just 30.4 percent on 4.2 triples per game last season. When he was playing a lower-usage, off-ball role in his freshman year, he did connect on 38.2 percent (3.9 attempts per game), so there is some hope he can land somewhere in the middle of that and keep defenses honest on the next level.
Minnesota finished the 2018-19 season 26th in 3-point makes and 23rd in 3-point makes, so drafting a dubious shooter may come back to bite them. Hopefully internal improvements are mixed with hot-shooting free agents, making this a non-factor.
Growl: Disappearing Darius
When reporting began that Minnesota was working hard to move up in the draft, Darius Garland’s name quickly became the most popular around Wolves World. The crafty point guard fit both team need and was probably the best player available according to most mock drafts.
With RJ Barrett going third to the New York Knicks, the thought of Garland started to get real. Atlanta (4) and Cleveland (5) both drafted point guards in last year’s draft, so it was presumed he would fall to sixth. Then the Cavaliers took an unexpected turn, and the thought of Garland and Karl-Anthony Towns was eviscerated.
There is plenty of speculation that Garland was the main reason Rosas made the trade to move up to six, so it undoubtedly threw a spanner in the works for the front office, too. With Garland in The Land, we will have to watch his ascension from afar.
Howl: Jaylen’s Jumper
We mentioned earlier how Culver’s shooting upside is contentious to say the least, well that isn’t the case for second-round pick Jaylen Nowell.
The 19-year-old nailed 44 percent of his long bombs in his sophomore season, jacking up a tick over three per game. He also finished in the 97th percentile for half court catch-and-shoot attempts. When you watch him, you immediately notice his textbook shot preparation and silky stroke, a great sign that he can continue to be a 3-point gunner in the NBA.
On top of his shooting prowess, the 6-foot-4 guard possesses a decent dribble-drive game and can pass the ball as well. With Minnesota’s bloated wing rotation, it’s unclear how many minutes Nowell will garner. If he does, though, we know he will bring that shooters mentality.
Howl: Raking in Reid
Despite going undrafted, it didn’t take long for LSU center Naz Reid to work his way onto an NBA squad. The freshman was tipped to be drafted in many mock drafts, so grabbing him on a two-way contract is a great pick-up for a Wolves team that needs to bulk up their big man rotation.
Standing at 6-foot-10 and weighing in at 250 lbs, Reid put up 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds during his lone season at LSU. He even showed a hint of 3-point potential, shooting 33.3 percent on 2.5 attempts per game. Reid is an awe-inspiring physical specimen. He is strong as an ox but still moves with a fluency that makes him a joy to watch.
One of many areas the Timberwolves’ previous front office regimes have fallen short in is their ability to find hidden gems with two-way and G-League players. They have rarely been young, potential-laden guys, which is painful to watch when you see so many undrafted studs make their mark year-in, year-out.
Naz Reid could signify the turning of a new leaf in that sense.